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Rapamycin: Potential Cognitive Enhancer July 1, 2012

Posted by Metabiological in Longevity, Transhumanism.
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Rapamycin has been seeing a lot of attention as a possible inhibitor of aging.  First isolated as a bacterial product from Easter Island (yes, that one) it has consistently proven to be one of the most exciting drugs in the anti-aging field.  How big is it?  The protein it affects is officialy known as mTOR or mammalian Target Of Rapamycin.  TOR incidentaly has also been implcated in the positive effects of fasting on human health and the breakdown and reapsorbtion of old organelles during cellular “housekeeping”.

Now, researchers have discovered another potential benefit of rapamycins use.

“We made the young ones learn, and remember what they learned, better than what is normal,” said Veronica Galvan, Ph.D., assistant professor of physiology at the Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies, part of the UT Health Science Center. “Among the older mice, the ones fed with a diet including rapamycin actually showed an improvement, negating the normal decline that you see in these functions with age.”  The drug also lowered anxiety and depressive-like behavior in the mice, Dr. Galvan said.

Mice are burrowers that prefer tunnels with walls. To observe behavior, Halloran used an elevated maze of tunnels that led to a catwalk. “All of a sudden the mice are in open space,” Halloran said. “It’s pretty far from the floor for their size, sort of like if a person is hiking and suddenly the trail gets steep. It’s pretty far down and not so comfortable.”

Mice with less anxiety were more curious to explore the catwalk. “We observed that the mice fed with a diet containing rapamycin spent significantly more time out in the open arms of the catwalk than the animals fed with a regular diet,” Halloran said.

The second test measured depressive-like behavior in the rodents. Mice do not like to be held by their tails, which is the way they are moved from cage to cage. Inevitably they struggle to find a way out. “So we can measure how much and how often they struggle as a measure of the motivation they have to get out of an uncomfortable situation,” Dr. Galvan said.

The fact that this improved cognition in young as well as old mice as well as the mood related effects suggests this isn’t a reversal of age related decline one might expect from an anti-aging drug but rather something different going on.  Either way keep an eye on rapamycin.  It’s shaping up to be something special.

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Transhumanist Media: New Deus Ex: Human Revolution Ad April 13, 2011

Posted by Metabiological in Transhumanism.
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If you’re a gamer you should be excited about Deus Ex: Human Revolution.  A prequel to the original Deus Ex, otherwise known as the BEST FUCKING GAME EVER, the Deus Ex HR continues in the tradition of the series by featuring an open-ended approach to completing objectives, RPG elements in the form of mechanical augmentations and labyrinthine conspiracy laded plots worthy of William Gibson.

If you’re a transhumanist you should be excited about Deus Ex: Human Revolution.  A complex and intelligent examination of the possible effects of widespread use of both physical and mental enhancement technologies on individuals and society as a whole in the form of what is sure to be a massively successful and widely played game.  Forget Transcendent Man.  If transhumanism is going to break into the mainstream its going to be through outlets like this.

(Side note: Don’t actually forget Transcendent Man.  Its a wonderful movie.)

As can be expected in the age of the internet a big upcoming release like DE:HR has a big viral marketing campaign behind it.  In this case it comes to us in the form of a website for Sarif Industries, a fictional corporation in the game specializing in the development of mechanical augmentations.  The website has been up for awhile but they have just posted a new fictional advertisement for the company.  You can watch it here.

Pretty damn awesome if I do say so myself.  What I like about it so much is how real it feels.  Strip away all the bionic arms and the eyes that can take picture, which coincidentally I now totally want, and this could easily be any number of the commercials we see today for weight loss drugs, plastic surgery and any other “make yourself better” products.  As such I can easily imagine something like this actually being produced in the near future as augmentation technologies start to become more widely spread.

The game comes out August 23 so if you’re a transhumanist or a gamer than mark your calender.  And if you’re both then start counting the seconds brother.  Its going to be a long four months.